Regular exercise elicits adaptations in glucose and lipid metabolism that allow the body to meet energy demands of subsequent exercise bouts more effectively and mitigate metabolic diseases including fatty liver. Energy discharged during the acute exercise bouts that comprise exercise training may be a catalyst for liver adaptations. During acute exercise, liver glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis are accelerated to supply glucose to working muscle. Lower liver energy state imposed by gluconeogenesis and related pathways activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which conserves ATP partly by promoting lipid oxidation. This study tested the hypothesis that AMPK is necessary for liver glucose and lipid adaptations to training. Liver-specific AMPKα1α2 knockout (AMPKα1α2fl/fl+AlbCre) mice and littermate controls (AMPKα1α2fl/fl) completed sedentary and exercise training protocols. Liver nutrient fluxes were quantified at rest or during acute exercise following training. Liver metabolites and molecular regulators of metabolism were assessed. Training increased liver glycogen in AMPKα1α2fl/fl mice, but not in AMPKα1α2fl/fl+AlbCre mice. The inability to increase glycogen led to lower glycogenolysis, glucose production, and circulating glucose during acute exercise in trained AMPKα1α2fl/fl+AlbCre mice. Deletion of AMPKα1α2 attenuated training-induced declines in liver diacylglycerides. In particular, training lowered the concentration of unsaturated and elongated fatty acids comprising diacylglycerides in AMPKα1α2fl/fl mice, but not in AMPKα1α2fl/fl+AlbCre mice. Training increased liver triacylglycerides and the desaturation and elongation of fatty acids in triacylglycerides of AMPKα1α2fl/fl+AlbCre mice. These lipid responses were independent of differences in tricarboxylic acid cycle fluxes. In conclusion, AMPK is required for liver training adaptations that are critical to glucose and lipid metabolism.
Keywords: aerobic exercise; gluconeogenesis; glycogenolysis; metabolic flux analysis; mitochondrial oxidative metabolism.